In a concerning trend for the gaming industry, PlayStation, also known as Sony Interactive Entertainment, has been hit by a wave of layoffs. This news has primarily surfaced through LinkedIn updates from former employees of the company.
Daniel Bellemare’s Departure
One of the affected individuals is former senior-level designer Daniel Bellemare, who was working on an unannounced project. Bellemare expressed his disappointment on LinkedIn, saying:
“Unfortunately, following a wave of layoffs last week was my last at PlayStation. While this is certainly not the news I was hoping for, I’m grateful to have had a chance to work amongst extremely talented colleagues on incredible projects and I’m leaving with good memories of my time there.”
Matt Barney’s Goodbye
Matt Barney, a senior technical recruiter at PlayStation, also echoed similar sentiments on his LinkedIn profile:
“Goodbye PlayStation / Sony Interactive Entertainment, it’s been real! For the past few months, I knew this layoff wave was coming. I love PlayStation & I always will… I mean, I stayed when I had the chance to leave, so obviously!”
Barney also expressed his gratitude to the studios he had supported, listing a few, such as San Diego Studio and Firewalk Studios.
PlayStation’s History with Layoffs
This isn’t the first time PlayStation has faced layoffs:
In October 2023, LinkedIn profiles indicated layoffs at the PlayStation first-party studio, Naughty Dog. The affected included Macauley Hopper, a production coordinator, and Markos Orfanos, a QA tester who was involved in the in-development multiplayer project for The Last of Us. Reports suggest that the multiplayer game had been put on an indefinite hold.
Earlier in May 2023, John Borba, a former project coordinator at PlayStation Visual Arts, revealed on LinkedIn that the studio experienced layoffs following a significant change in direction on a AAA multiplayer game they had been working on.
Widespread Job Losses in the Gaming Industry
The year 2023 has been challenging for the gaming industry, with numerous companies facing layoffs:
- Embracer Group, following a failed $2 billion partnership with the Saudi government-funded Savvy Games Group, announced a “restructuring program”, resulting in the closure of studios and termination of projects. Significant layoffs occurred at Gearbox Publishing, Crystal Dynamics, and Beamdog. Embracer Group also shut down Volition and is considering selling Gearbox, which was acquired in 2021 for a staggering $1.4 billion.
- Cambridge, UK-based Frontier Developments also reported job losses.
- Other studios facing cuts include Telltale Games, Team17, Striking Distance Studios, Epic Games, Ascendant Studios, Bioware, CD Projekt Red, and more. You can read more about this trend here.
Visual Arts Service Group in the Spotlight
The San Diego-based Visual Arts Service Group, founded in 2007, has the mission of growing PlayStation’s biggest franchises. They were notably brought to the limelight for their work on The Last of Us Part 1. Some of the developers from the Visual Arts Group have reported their departures online, though it remains ambiguous whether these exits are solely due to layoffs or the natural conclusion of their contract terms. Sean Teo, a rigging artist for The Last of Us Part 1, stated on his LinkedIn:
“Hey everyone, my contract at PlayStation Visual Arts has unfortunately come to an end. I am currently looking for a new role and I am flexible with working on video games, cinematic films, and commercial work.”
This recent wave of layoffs, both at PlayStation and throughout the gaming industry, raises concerns about the stability and future of gaming jobs. The reasons for these cuts vary from company restructuring to failed deals, but the collective impact on talented professionals within the industry is undeniable. As companies navigate these challenges, the hope is that the industry can find a way to stabilize and continue to create engaging experiences for gamers worldwide.